Features: July 25th, 2003

Putting Customer Relationship Management Into Practice For Homesearch

When the London Borough of Lewisham decided it needed to improve the way Council and housing association one bedroom and studio flats are let, it recognised that it needed a specialist partner to handle customer enquiries for its new Lewisham Homesearch scheme. It selected Loop Customer Management of Thornbury, Bradford, specialists in customer relationship management, to help deliver the innovative new scheme.

The new lettings initiative, launched in May this year, was created to put more of the decision-making into the customer’s own hands and it is one of 27 e-government pilots in the country to receive central support funding. The self-selection lettings scheme has been developed in partnership with all the main Registered Social Landlords in Lewisham and aims to make the letting of social housing in the borough as transparent and simple as possible for all customers.

Local Housing Associations produce a weekly newsletter which is also accessible on the website http://www.lewishamhomesearch.org.uk. The newsletter/website advertises 20 or more one bedroom and studio flats which become available for let for that week. Customers who are on the housing list can then ask to be considered for any of the properties that are suitable for them by either telephoning the special call centre number run by Loop or via the website. The site carries a picture of the property as well as full details. Problems for prospective tenants are more intense for those who are not native English speakers. For this reason the site provides information in Turkish, Somali, Spanish, French, Albanian, Chinese, Tamil and Vietnamese as well as English.

Customers are encouraged to call Loop to express an interest in the types of property they are searching for, not just the ones that are advertised. An offer of a tenancy is made to the customer that the property is most suitable for, who has been in priority need the longest and who has expressed an interest in that particular property.

Loop Customer Relationship Managers have handled more than 24,000 enquiries from Lewisham Borough customers since the contract started one year ago.

During the telephone call, registered customers advise Loop of properties that they are interested in. The Customer Relationship Managers check the customer’s details and the information is then entered directly into the Lewisham system.

Short life properties, hostels and supported housing will not be advertised under the Lewisham Homesearch scheme and some properties will be earmarked for emergency use.

Melanie Dixon of Lewisham Borough Council said: “We are delighted with the level of customer service provided by Loop on our behalf and extremely satisfied with the seamless support we’ve been given throughout the pilot scheme. We are now hoping to extend Lewisham Homesearch to the full range of social housing.”

Ruth Bligh, a Customer Experience Leader at Loop Customer Management commented: “The team at Loop are delighted to be helping and supporting Lewisham Borough Council. Our combined efforts ensure customers occupy vacant properties as soon as they become available”.

Using state-of-the-art technology, Loop specialises in customer relationship management and offers managed customer services from inbound and outbound telephone calling to written correspondence and mail opening. Loop also offers a full collection service from billing and payment processing to reminders and in-house recovery agency.

The company’s aim is to provide a great customer experience at every point of contact on behalf of its clients, providing a seamless service thanks to its professional team of nationally-recognised staff.

Loop, created within the Kelda Group to provide managed customer services to Kelda subsidiaries and external clients, works in partnership with a number of customers including Kirklees Metropolitan Council, Yorkshire Water, Merseyside Fire Service, Wales Tourist Board, B&Q and the National Blood Service to name but a few.

For more information contact Nicci Hawkins, Loop Customer Management: Tel: 01274 260000.